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About Latvia » Daugavpils

Some facts: Daugavpils is located approximately 230 km south-east of the Latvian capital, Riga, on the banks of the Daugava River which is over 1000 km in length and which flows from its source in Russia, through Belarus and Latvia before entering the Baltic Sea via the Gulf of Riga. The city has a favourable geographical position as it borders with Belarus and Lithuania (distances of 33 and 25 km respectively). It is located some 120 km from the borderline with Russia. Daugavpils is the second largest city in Latvia (pop. 115 000). Russians with 54,2% formed a majority in the city and are followed by Poles at 15,1%, Latvians with 14,3% and Belarusians with 8,3%.
History: In history sources Daugavpils was first mentioned in 1275 when the Livonian Order built a stone castle Dinaburga at the ancient trade route, 19 km away from the present-day city. Then a town grew and developed round the castle. During military expeditions, the castle was ruined and then rebuilt again several times. On the present-day site of the city, fortifications and the town began to develop in the 70-ies of the 16th century. However, because of constant wars the development of the town was slow. It had been occupied by Polish, Russian and Swedish troops. In 1582 Daugavpils was granted the rights of a town. In the early 17th century Catholic missionaries - Jesuits settled on the territory of Daugavpils. Daugavpils became the administrative and economic center of Latgale. In 1772 Latgale was incorporated into the Russian Empire. In 1811 the construction of a fortress, later used as prison, was started on the site of Daugavpils. In the second half of the 19th century Daugavpils became an important traffic hub. Daugavpils was connected with Petersburg, Riga, Warsaw, Orl, Šiauliai by a network of railway lines; the Petersburg - Warsaw highway intersected the town and there was a route of small ships to Vitebsk. Industry began to develop in the town. During World War I the town lay within the front-line zone and therefore suffered greatly during military operations. Factories were evacuated, the number of population decreased. By the end of Latvia’s freedom and independence fights, in January 1920, Latvian and Polish troops arrived in Daugavpils. The Latvian Republic began its busy 20 years of economic, cultural and educational development. During World War II was severely damaged. The greatest part of the dwelling-houses as well as the railway station were destroyed. During the 50-80-ties a great number of dwelling houses and drivingohains, electroinstrument as well as chemical fibre factories were built. The population grew rapidly. Taking into account the growth of the scientific potential at Daugavpils Pedagogical Institute, the latter was granted a status of university in 1993. The name of the city has been changed several times. In the 13th-19th centuries it was known as Dinaburga, in the 17th century, for a short while, it was renamed Borisoglebska, on the change of the 19th-20th centuries it was given a name of Dvinska, but since 1920 its name is Daugavpils.
Town: With good reason the fortress, originally built as a fortification for the western border of the Russian Empire, can be considered the symbol of Daugavpils. The Classicism-style fortress was consecrafed by the Russia’s tsar in 1833. In later years the tsarist, Latvian and Soviet Armies had been stationed there. At present the fortress is under the supervision of the local municipality and Real Estates Agency as a cultural and historical monument. The Daugava protecting dam, which stretches 6 km along the river and at its highest points reaches 9 m, is another singular landmark of the city. It was built in 1841, and is still protecting the city from flood-waters. On accordance with the town-building plan, confirmed by the tsar in 1826. Daugavpils present-day centre and its street network started shaping in the early 19th century. The features of the styles peculiar to this historical period have been preserved in Riga street, the main street of the city centre. A characteristic feature of buildings is Classicism-style red brick houses with ornamentation of various styles. More than a hundred years ago a 3 ha large park was laid out in the center of the city. The park is called now Dubrovin’s Park as it was created with great assistance and support of Pavel Dubrovin, the first head of the city. It has been a restplace popular with the townspeople for years. Between Riga and Saules streets there is Vienības nams (Unity House), designed in plain architectonic forms: prisms and cubes. The many halls and rooms of this building house a theatre, the city central library, several shops and cafes. All the principal cultural activities of the city take place here.